Noise bounced around the walls as beer was drunk and conversations got louder and more boisterous. Gavin sat quietly in his favourite place, tucked away but able to observe the surrounding chaos. Leaning back, he let out a contented sigh as he took a long swallow of his cold beer. The perfect antidote to a stressful day. Not that it had been stressful apart from the visit to the newest celebrity.
Which frankly had him revert to awkward teenage behaviour. How embarrassing, he thought. Never mind being unprofessional, and Gavin was all for being professional. She had been beautiful, he decided, not the gangly girl he remembered from his youth and childhood. He didn’t think she had recognised him and was part relieved and disappointed.
He fiddled with a beer mat. A frown creased his forehead as his blue eyes followed the grains in the table’s wood. A quiet murmur of the other patrons and the occasional clink of glasses as Nicola, the bar maid dried glasses. The noisy office party had now broken up and left. It was getting late, and he should finish his pint and head home himself. He was technically off duty, but in a village of this size, that was rarely the case. As the three teenage boys pulled chairs over and crowded around him, all talking at once. Until he held up his hand to quieten them.
‘Tell me that again and slower this time,’ he lifted his gaze to survey the three boys sat around him. He knew these boys. They were at that age where they pushed boundaries brushed against the establishment, namely him as he was the local police officer. On the whole, he knew they were good kids. Knew their parents and the type of home each came from.
‘Okay, mister Summers,’ James, the blond ringleader of the group, spoke up. ‘We were out in the field by the woods that circle Roman hill. Farmer Edge said we could shoot some rabbits.’ James paused and took a sip of his drink.
‘That’s when we saw them, a girl and a boy. The girl was holding something in her arms. She darted into the wood toward old Mother Crumbs cottage. You know the one the popular lady off the telly lives in now.’ the boy blushed at Gavin’s raised brow as his companion elbowed him.
‘Anyway, the boy stood watching. He looked agitated and kept pacing until the girl came back,’ Steven whispered. ‘That’s when we heard it the growl of an engine and that’s when we saw...’ Steven took a gulp of beer. Placing the glass down. Steven looked straight at Gavin. ‘We aren’t lying, he changed right there into...’ he swallowed nervously.
‘Go on,’ Gavin encouraged.
‘He changed into this giant dog; I would say wolf if I didn’t know that’s impossible.’ he took a gulp of his drink. ‘You know, like in that film... Twilight,’ James blushed. ‘My sister made me watch it,’ he mumbled as the other two sniggered into their beer.
‘Okay, so then what happened?’ Gavin prompted again.
‘But before that, mister Summers,’ Oli spoke much quieter than the other two. Gavin had always found it a strange friendship.
‘Go on Oli,’ Gavin encouraged.
‘This black truck appeared. Real posh it was. There was shouting and laughing like it was sport,’ Oli fiddled with the beer mat.
‘It was then the girl and boy split up,’
‘They had this discussion… argument. The boy didn’t look happy and the thing the girl had been holding was gone,’ Steven interrupted.
’The truck went after the girl, and we heard a shot and she collapsed.
‘That’s when the boy turned into dog… wolf thing,’ all three boys nodded their heads in unison as their earnest gazes stayed trained on Gavin. Gavin swallowed at the intensity of it. He cleared his throat and took another swallow of beer.
‘So where were you boys?’ he asked, placing his glass back on the table.
‘We were hiding in the bushes watching,’ James answered. ‘They were bad men, mister Summers, like you see on the tele,’
‘The truck stopped, and they pulled her inside before speeding away, but not before they fired a shot at the dog, wolf boy, thing. That’s it, that’s what we saw. Mister Summers swear we aren’t lying,’ Oliver, the smaller of the three, shrugged.
‘We followed the dog thing into the ravine where it fell. Two of the bad men found it and we hear them say it was dead. So, when they were gone, we crept down to have a look.’
‘It wasn’t dead though,’ Steven shook his head as he slurped his drink.
‘It was alive but only just so we took it to old mother crumbs house,’
‘Where that lady from the tele lives?’ Oliver added for clarification.
‘She took it in and called vet Mark. Said he was her uncle,’
‘We couldn’t leave it, mister Summers. That would have been wrong,’
‘Thank you, boys. I will look into it in the meantime. I would suggest you keep it to yourselves, okay?’ Gavin looked at the three boys as they nodded, and all took gulps of their drinks. Pushing his chair back, Gavin climbed to his feet and surveyed the three boys.
‘It’s late, now remember to keep this to yourselves.’ Nodding, he walked to the door, calling out his goodbyes. He slipped into the night and strolled home, thinking over all the boys had told him. What the hell was a Lycan doing in his village? This could bring trouble, his main thought.
The walk home had his mind buzzing at all the boys had said. Somehow, he found himself walking past old Mrs Crumbs cottage. In a last-minute decision and seeing as a light was on inside. He walked down the uneven path and knocked on the door.
‘PC Summer, what are you doing here so late?’ Elizer smiled as she ushered him inside. The dark jeans and shirt made him seem younger than the police officer that had called. Taking a seat as she went to the fridge and retrieved a bottle of beer.
‘Gavin, you can call me Gavin. PC Summer is too formal for this time of night.’ Gavin smiled as Elizer passed him a bottle of beer.
‘Yeah, a bit and I am Elizer, but you probably know that,’ Elizer giggled.
‘I was walking past on my way home and just thought I would check you were alright,’ he stopped talking, seeing her confused frown. ‘Sorry, that came out all wrong,’ he quickly apologised and back tracked, taking a sip of his beer to calm his nerves, still finding her beauty intimidating.
‘The thing is, the pub was full of gossip about the incident the other night and talk of strangers in the village and all, so I thought, well, I thought I would just check you were okay,’ he finished.
‘Well, that was very kind, but I am fine, thank you. Uncle Mark he came over, so I haven’t been completely on my own.’
‘Oh, why was Mark here? Is Connie ill?’
‘No, I um found this dog, and it was in pretty terrible shape, so I called Mark and he came to have a look on his way past, that’s all,’ Elizer explained with a smile. ‘I don’t suppose anyone has reported a missing dog?’
‘No, not that I am aware, but I could ask for you,’ Gavin answered. ‘Can I see it?’
‘Well, no, Mark took it back to the surgery. It was in pretty terrible shape,’
‘I will ask around. Someone must miss it. I will talk to Mark. He might have heard something,’ Gavin answered. No intention of doing any of that except talking to Mark, he thought, while sipping his beer.
‘Thank you, Gavin, that would be marvellous,’ she smiled at him again. Good grief, man, get a grip, he chastised himself mentally as he felt the heat of a blush.
‘Well, I better get going after all. It is very late.’ he made his way to the door. ‘Night Elizer,’ he mumbled as he opened the door, feeling inadequate again.
‘Night Gavin and thank you,’ Elizer stood, a smile playing around her lips as she watched the young police officer amble up the path and disappear into the lane.